“One of the nice things that come with growing community is the diversity it creates and also the opportunities”
As residents of the city of Airdrie, we all know one thing for sure … Airdrie just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Whether you’ve been here for one, five, 10 or even 30 years, you have noticed the growth in our community and the never-ending influx of people choosing Airdrie. Like my small child’s growth spurt, regular growing pains are bound to happen.
The 2019 census results saw an increase of 3.63 per cent, taking us to a population of 70,564 people. The city’s population grew by 2,473 which is 6.8 new residents per day. This growth rate is actually the smallest increase we have seen in recent years; the lowest increase since 1991, when the city grew only by 3.23 per cent.
I truly believe this graph sums up Airdrie and our growth. Over the past 40 years, we have grown from 5,897 people to more than 70,000. Just take a minute to internalize that … it’s seriously crazy! Airdrie is now Alberta’s fifth-largest city!
Table 1: Airdrie population growth over 40 years
Source: City of Airdrie Civic Census
Putting it into perspective, in the 1970s, we had just received town status and we had just annexed the “east lands” to have a footprint east of the QEII. Thinking back to when we were 5,897 people, the issues our municipality faced were quite different than what we are facing today. The concerns of 5,000 people aren’t those of public transit, affordability or policing. In a town of 5,000 people, there is a good chance that everyone knew each other and those residents of Airdrie wanted to see different things than our current residents.
I recently read a research paper that examines the layers of issues that accompany a municipality as it grows. The paper explains that as a community grows, so does the complexity and importance of issues. In fact, it mentions that smaller municipalities have the luxury of leaning on larger municipalities for certain issues. Now as we continue to grow and diversify, we need to shift our concerns to include these issues that haven’t always been at the forefront of our thinking.
One of the nice things that come with growing community is the diversity it creates and also the opportunities. As we grow we see a wide variety of housing options for our youth and empty nesters. An increase in population brings in new businesses and industry, which then creates jobs so that our people can live, work and play in Airdrie.
I believe Airdrie is at the stage in our growth where we will have to start looking at things differently to ensure we continue to meet the new growth realities, while trying to keep that small-town feeling we all love. We need to support local, be kind to each other, and take care of our community and the environment we live in. We need to get off of social media, go out and meet our neighbours and enjoy this great community of which we are all lucky to be a part. If we still want to maintain the small-town charm that Airdrie is known for, it is up to us as individual residents and business owners to get involved in the community and ensure that feeling isn’t lost, no matter how quickly we grow.
Tara Levick is an economic development officer with the City of Airdrie